NHS hospital trusts are forecasted to exceed their budgets by £850m this year, more than triple the deficit health service bosses said was adequate, research has shown.
The £850m is even larger than the £550m-£580m overspend that some NHS leaders have said is the most the service can overspend by this year without risking major financial issues. However, NHS upgrading, the health service’s financial regulator, has already cautioned that a figure as high as £550m would make management of the general NHS financial position very risky
NHS finance experts claim that the true scale of the NHS’s expected overspend in 2016-17 will be even larger as trusts are receiving £1.8bn in extra funding this year from a sustainability and transformation fund (STF) to help cover large overspends incurred last year. If that turns out to be the case, the real deficit run up by trusts could be up to £2.65bn. A record £2.45bn overspend was posted last year.
However, Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers, who is speaking on behalf of the trusts, said: “There is a well-established strategy to eliminate the provider sector deficit. Because of a huge effort across all trusts, that strategy is mainly being delivered and is broadly on track.